Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Accident Leads to Incredible Discovery, Regrowing Coral Reefs Like Never Before

When you have a task to complete, many times it seems best to hunker down and focus solely on finishing that task until it's done. Whether that's writing a novel, making sales calls or writing lesson plans, putting everything else out of your mind and getting to work is a proven means to accomplish your goals.

When you have blinders or tunnel vision, though, you often forget to stop to smell the roses or see what's going on around you and what valuable lessons or insights you might be missing.

Plenty of scientists have made discoveries by accident, and have found useful inventions or information in their pursuit of something completely different. That's how we've gotten duct tape, super glue and even microwaves.

Now another scientist, Dr. David Vaughan, has made a discovery that could potentially regrow coral reefs in a fraction of the time it would normally take. According to BBC, it started with brokenness.

"Little did I know that one elkhorn coral attached itself to the bottom of the aquarium," Vaughan said. "So when I went to move it, it stuck, and I heard a breaking sound."

"And it had broken into many tiny pieces. They grew back to the same size in just a few weeks that it had taken three years to grow."

Upon realizing what this could mean, he tested it out on more and more species of coral until he confirmed that this fragmentation method worked brilliantly with all of the Florida Keys varieties.

The painstaking process of growing coral has been obliterated by this discovery. Under normal conditions, it can take corals up to seven decades to reach maturity; now, it could take as few as three.

Being able to regrow corals nearly 40 times faster than before means a lot of reefs could be restored.

"Corals the size of a small car could be 200-500 years old, so it might take centuries for it to come back. We now take a coral the size of a golf ball and cut it into 20 to 100 microfragments," Vaughan said.

"Each fragment grows back to that size in as little as a few months, and when they touch each other as they're growing, they recognize each other as themselves and fuse back together."

Vaughan has some big plans for the future and has even stayed on longer so he can see the coral reefs regrown.

"This is now a new discovery that can give real hope for our coral reefs that has never been there before," he told BBC. "So I postponed my retirement until I see a million corals replanted back on the reef."


Trump's Energy Nominee Is One Step Closer to Confirmation Despite Democratic Opposition

President Donald Trump's pick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee passed a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, advancing him to the Senate chamber for a final confirmation vote.

Bernard McNamee's confirmation in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee went quickly. Only Republican Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and ranking Democrat Maria Cantwell issued statements before members took to a vote. McNamee ultimately passed 13-10, with the vote falling mostly along party lines.

"Based on the conversation I've had with Mr. McNamee, I think that he understands FERC must be an independent agency, it must continue to function as such, and I'm going to take his commitment to maintain FERC's autonomy and take an independent role as a commissioner at face value," Murkowski said.

However, Cantwell channeled almost every Democratic member when she slammed McNamee's nomination. The ranking Democrat on the committee said his past criticism of renewable energy and praise of fossil fuels rendered him unable to serve as an unbiased commissioner.

"I find it hard to believe he will be an impartial reviewer of these issues," Cantwell said.

Democratic members stood opposed to McNamee's nomination - and sought to delay the Tuesday vote - after a controversial video of McNamee in February recently surfaced. McNamee is seen railing against renewable energy in the video.

"Renewables, when they come on and off, it screws up the whole the physics of the grid," McNamee stated at the time. The footage was taken while he led the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. "So when people want to talk about science, they ought to talk about the physics of the grid and know what real science is, and that is how do you keep the lights on?" he added.

In that same speech, McNamee also hit environmental organizations.

"The green movement is always talking about more government control because it's the constant battle between liberty and tyranny," he said. "It's about people who want to say I know what's better for you."

While the video irked Democrats on the committee, Murkowski pointed out that the members offended by McNamee's comments were already opposed to his nomination to begin with. In a previous committee hearing, Democratic members were already hostile because of McNamee's past work with the Energy Department, where he led an attempt to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants.

McNamee has continued to maintain that he would be an independent arbiter while serving on FERC. The nominee told committee members on Nov. 15 that "it's important to look at the law and the facts and make those decision based on that."

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin - who has been very supportive of the White House's energy agenda - was the sole Democrat on the committee to vote in favor of McNamee.

In what would be an odd circumstance for a party that is increasingly hostile toward fossil fuels, Manchin could very well be the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year.

McNamee is likely to win his vote in the Senate chamber, where his confirmation will return a GOP majority to FERC, a 5-member federal agency.


Iowa Farmers Claim Brilliant Victory: Judge Orders Immediate Destruction of Illegal Wind Turbines

Developers who invested $11 million to install three wind turbines in eastern Iowa are tearing them down, after losing a legal battle waged by nearby residents.

It’s only the second time nationally a judge has ordered wind turbines to be torn down and a first in Iowa.

“It’s great. We love it,” said Cheyney Hershey, whose young family lives near the turbines. “You can’t sit outside on the deck and have a conversation without the constant thumping of the blades going round.”

The noise can even be heard inside his home, Hershey said: “There was nowhere to get away from them.”

His family and others watch daily to see what work has been done: Crews have torn down two turbines and are dismantling the third. They have until Dec. 9 to complete the work.

Opponents to the 450-foot turbines believe the legal battle will empower other rural landowners and small towns to take on wind.

Residents in Palo Alto, Black Hawk and other counties are challenging wind projects as well.

“It was a shock that the neighbors and Fairbank could say we didn’t want them” and win, said Ted Vorwald, a Fairbank city council member.

In 2015, the Fayette County Zoning Board provided permits that allowed the wind developers to build the turbines.

Nearby landowners challenged the permits in district court, where a judge agreed with them, saying the permits were “illegal and void.”

Developers appealed the decision, and decided to move ahead with construction.

But the Iowa Court of Appeals this year ruled in the city and residents’ favor. And the Iowa Supreme Court declined to consider the case, forcing the developers to tear down the turbines.

“The system worked,” Vorwald said. “They were put up without the zoning … and the courts upheld the ruling.”

Opponents to the 450-foot turbines believe the legal battle will empower other rural landowners and small towns to take on wind.

Residents in Palo Alto, Black Hawk and other counties are challenging wind projects as well.

“It was a shock that the neighbors and Fairbank could say we didn’t want them” and win, said Ted Vorwald, a Fairbank city council member.

In 2015, the Fayette County Zoning Board provided permits that allowed the wind developers to build the turbines.

Nearby landowners challenged the permits in district court, where a judge agreed with them, saying the permits were “illegal and void.”

Developers appealed the decision, and decided to move ahead with construction.

But the Iowa Court of Appeals this year ruled in the city and residents’ favor. And the Iowa Supreme Court declined to consider the case, forcing the developers to tear down the turbines.

“The system worked,” Vorwald said. “They were put up without the zoning … and the courts upheld the ruling.”


Democrats' Socialist Energy Policies Would Bring Destruction and They Must Be Stopped

Many Democrats are becoming more open about their socialist inclinations, although they still lie about socialism's ability to make the world a better place.

Socialism kills. From the former Soviet Union to Cuba, from North Korea to Venezuela, everywhere socialism was implemented, it robbed people of their freedom and property, produced economic stagnation and misallocation of resources and resulted in millions of deaths, caused either directly or indirectly.

Despite this fact, in an interview in New York Magazine, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pined for government control over everyone's property -their homes, their businesses, everything, saying, "I think there's a socialistic impulse . if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed." Because that's brought such happiness, prosperity, and better living conditions to the people of Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela.

Then we come to the energy socialism being pushed by self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected Democratic Representative from New York, among others. Despite an annual salary topping $174,000, Ocasio-Cortez complained with a straight face after being elected that it will be hard for her to find a place she can afford to rent in Washington, D.C. - a city, by the way, that almost perfectly satisfies de Blasio's desire for all of the property in the city being owned by, its uses directed by, or sharply delimited by various levels of government. I've got a news flash for Ocasio-Cortez: most people, even those in D.C., live on much less.

Despite her struggle to find affordable housing on her taxpayer-funded lavish salary, Ocasio-Cortez has the hubris to believe Congress and federal bureaucracies in D.C. have the wisdom to control and direct peoples energy choices across the nation.

Ocasio-Cortez led protests outside long-time Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi's office last week, demanding the front-runner for speaker of the House push for greater government control over the nation's energy system in the next Congress.

In fact, Ocasio-Cortez has proposed what she calls a "Green New Deal," requiring "the investment of trillions of dollars," to transition the United States to a 100 percent renewable energy system by 2035.

Unfortunately, Ocasio-Cortez is not alone in her distorted economics and history philosophies. Many Democrats now favor energy socialism. Hundreds of Democratic candidates for local, state and federal offices in the 2018 midterm elections signed a pledge to push for the 100 percent renewable energy makeover. Undoubtedly, many of those candidates now sit in positions of power to restrict peoples' use of affordable, reliable fossil fuels and enforce expensive renewable energy mandates on them.

Indeed, after the gains so-called progressive Democrats made in the election, the number of Democratic lawmakers who support the radical, Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act will undoubtedly have grown. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii introduced the OFF Act with relatively little public notice in September 2017. The OFF Act requires "100 percent renewable energy by 2035 (and 80 percent by 2027), places a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, bans the export of oil and gas, and also moves our automobile and rail systems to 100 percent renewable energy."

Unattainable energy policies, supported fully by numerous environmental extremists, would destroy millions of jobs and put the United States at a huge disadvantage when competing against other countries, especially China, India, Russia and other nations whose environmental laws are much less stringent.

Energy is the lifeblood of the economy, powering everything we do. Giving government even more control over energy development and use than it already has, including directing or limiting people's fundamental choices over how to move about the country, what kind of electronics they use and how and when they can be charged, how to light, heat, cook in, and exercise climate control in their homes, what types of energy investments they want in their retirement portfolios, and what types of energy sources companies can develop, supply, and use would be catastrophic. Only chaos and misery will result.

Wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy are more expensive and less reliable than traditional energy sources like natural gas and coal, which explains why states that require or subsidize renewable energy sources or tax fossil fuels at high rates have higher electric power and gasoline costs than states with lower gas tax burdens and which don't demand, or subsidize the use of renewables.

The U.S. economy is the envy of the world, built on a power system reliant primarily on relatively inexpensive, reliable fossil fuels. Adopting the kind of energy socialism being pushed by Democrats threatens to impoverish families, cause greater unemployment and bring the power grid and the economy crashing down.

In Europe, which is much further down the road to energy socialism than most of the United States, thousands of people die in winter due to a lack of reliable heat, and during the summer from not having access to reliable air conditioning. These are third-world energy problems brought on by increasing government control over the energy system.

Energy socialism can't fix our problems, but it sure can make things much worse.


OPINION: It’s Time To Kill Electric Lemons

It’s an old joke but a true one: Whatever liberals don’t like, they ban. Everything else they want to make mandatory.

Nowhere is that truer than in the “green energy” sector. In the lame-duck session of Congress, Republicans have a chance to push back against this when it comes to one of the Democrats’ favorite boondoggles: subsidizing the electric car.

Remember Solyndra? The solar panel company touted as a success by the Obama administration that went out of business soon after a visit from President Obama in which he held them up as an example of success? That politically connected company cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars because while the “green” business model sounds great, it’s simply not ready for prime time.

Now, imagine that on a larger scale. That’s the story of the electric car.

Electric cars are touted as an important part of combating climate change — the idea that human activity is destroying the planet so it must be managed by bureaucrats. But aside from a few devotees, the public wasn’t interested in electric cars. Not because people hate the planet, but because they are expensive and inconvenient.

You can’t just stop at a gas station and charge your batteries like you can fill up with fuel and be on your way; it takes a while to charge batteries. Plus, electric cars are expensive. Batteries large enough to run a car for even a hundred miles cost a lot of money.

That last part — the cost — is something activists have been dealing with for decades. How do you get people to buy something inconvenient and less useful than something much cheaper and more reliable? All things being equal, electric cars would never have sold. But when liberal politicians want people to live a certain way, nothing is equal.

The government does what it always does when they want to “nudge” or control people into living a certain way; they subsidize it. And the subsidies to electric car makers make the Solyndra debacle look like the change found in your couch.

In the current tax code, taxpayers (all of us) are on the hook for billions of dollars in subsidies in the form of tax credits annually for people who buy electric cars. But the people who buy electric cars likely aren’t your neighbors — they’re wealthy liberals who can afford to spend twice as much on a car than the average American. Fully 78 percent of the subsidies go to people with incomes above $100,000.

For all the talk of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s odd to have leftists advocating for a massive wealth transfer from the middle class to the wealthy. Yet that’s what the current system does.

But maybe not for much longer.

The lame-duck Congress has a chance to end this ridiculous tax credit and save all of us billions of dollars going forward.

As Congress scrambles to pass the remaining budget items, one of the pet projects that could be ended is this credit, which subsidizes up to $7,500 of the cost of a new electric car with our money. And they should.

Working Americans shouldn’t be picking up a chunk of the tab of a car for people who make enough money to buy a car themselves. If someone wants an electric car, they’ll buy one.

Even some manufacturers of electric cars want them gone. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, said, according to the New York Times, the company would be better off without them. “Tesla’s competitive advantage improves as the incentives go away,” Musk said.

The market would pick winners and losers without the subsidy, not the government manipulating it. The cars people want would sell, the ones they don’t would go away. Frankly, if a company can’t sell its product without taxpayers helping foot the bill, it should go away. Tesla believes it can survive without it, and some of its competitors can’t. The government should allow that to happen across the entire market like it just did with the Chevy Volt.

General Motors announced this week they were discontinuing the Volt because people weren’t buying it, even with the subsidy. Imagine how the market would look, which other companies and products wouldn’t exist, were it not for the taxpayers cover a large part of the bill.

Part of power, a big part, is control; the ability to manipulate how others act. The tax code is riddled with mechanisms to control the public – do this and you get rewarded, do that and you have to pay. Every opportunity to eliminate that perverse power in the tax code should be taken.

Next week, Congress will have the opportunity to eliminate another piece of that control, to free the American people to make their own decisions and save us billions.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a drop in the bucket, but every bucket is full of drops and you have to start somewhere. Getting us off the hook for subsidizing wealthy people’s “feel good” car purchases is as good of a place to start as any.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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